BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Joe’L Fisher spent Thursday decorating gingerbread houses with her pre-k class at West Hertel Academy.
Over the weekend, she was doing something else for one of them.
“Last week we were made aware that one of my students had no heat and needed blankets,” the teacher told us.
The child is from another country, and just recently arrived in western New York. Their family doesn’t speak any English.
Fisher got some help from one of West Hertel’s social workers, Samantha Janosick.
“We have a language line, so we called an interpreter and actually made a phone call out to the family to see what their needs were,” Janosick said.
Fisher and her co-workers knew it wouldn’t be enough just to make sure her student was prepared for the winter.
“I felt that I needed to go and help, so I just put a message on Facebook to my friends, asking if they have any clothing or boots or hats to donate, that they’d like to donate to this family,” Fisher told News 4.
The response was overwhelming.
Fisher got donations from several business and organizations around the area.
“I spent the weekend picking up, mapping out a route,” she said.
“Everybody really came through.”
35 percent of West Hertel’s students come from immigrant or refugee families; there are also a lot of first generation students.
Staff said the need for winter clothes is a common one, so they keep a room called “The Parents Room” stocked all year round; students or their families can come in and take whatever they need, no questions asked.
“The Parents Room” It’s staffed with parent volunteers every day.
Fellow teachers told us the “giving spirit” is something commonly seen at West Hertel, but they said Ms. Fisher especially, is no stranger to going above and beyond.
“It’s a natural effect on her part. I have no doubts that she would go beyond measurable requirements for any child in need, at any time,” said Angela Tirone, who teaches in the classroom next door to Fisher.
West Hertel Academy was in real trouble the last couple years, in fact it almost closed.
In part, the Principal Cecelie Owens credits getting more funding via the receivership program for helping turn it around, but she was emotional Thursday, as she told us it’s teachers like Fisher she thanks the most.